How Ultraviolet Radiations Harm Your Skin?

Published: 05th June 2009
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The sun emits harmful ultraviolet radiations that wreck havoc on your skin. They only comprise of a small percentage in the sun spectrum but are very dangerous for the skin. Ultraviolet rays can damage the skin cells and cause disruption to its DNA structure. In fact, tanning is a defense mechanism of the skin against this damage.

The spectrum of ultraviolet rays comprise of 3 types of rays - UVA, UVB and UVC.

UVA Rays

These rays have a wavelength of about 320-400 nm and are the longest of the UV spectrum. They penetrate deep inside the skin surface and cause premature aging of the skin resulting in wrinkles, fine lines and age spots. Prolonged and unprotected exposure to the UVA rays can also promote the chance of getting skin cancer. UVA rays can easily parse through glass and windows and can affect you even if you are inside the confines of your home or car.

UVA rays can be further divided into two sub types - Long UVA (UVA-1) and Short UVA(UVA-2). Long UVA rays range from 350 TO 400 nm in wavelength while short UVA rays range from 320 to 350 nm. It is important to know their wavelengths because some sunscreens that promise broad spectrum protection, protects only against either UVA-1 or UVA-2 rays.

UVB Rays

These rays form the middle range of the UV spectrum and range about 280-320 nm in wavelength. UVB rays are the ones responsible for sunburns. Most of these rays get absorbed by the epidermis layer of the skin before it reaches the dermis layer. Hence, it doesn't play a very significant role in promoting wrinkles and fine lines. However, it does promote the chances of skin cancer just like UVA rays.

UVC Rays

UVC rays are the shortest of the spectrum. They range from about 100 to 280 nm in wavelength. It is the most harmful of all the ultra-violet rays but luckily gets completely absorbed by the ozone layer of the atmosphere. Therefore, even though UVC rays are extremely dangerous, we are not affected by them at all.

Exposure to UV Rays

UV exposure is highest in the early and late afternoon, especially so in the summer and places situated in the lower latitudes. And the sun's rays are the strongest from 11 am. to about 4 pm. Therefore, it is highly advisable to avoid any kind of sun exposure during that time of the day. Moreover, the intensity of UV rays varies a great deal across different seasons and latitudes.

Indirect Sunlight

Sun damage is not only caused by direct radiations of the sunlight but indirect sunlight as well. This means, even if you wear a hat, carry an umbrella or stand in the shade, you are not protected by the harmful rays of the sun. This is because UV radiation reflects and refracts through common surfaces like clouds, water, curtains, glass doors and windows.

When your skin is so susceptible to damage, it becomes extremely important for you to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen that offers protection against the UVA and UVB rays.

Some Product Suggestions:

Nia 24 Sun Damage Prevention SPF 30
It is a physician recommended sunscreen lotion that has a dual action mechanism- It prevents sun damage and also repairs the skin. It is a 100% mineral sunscreen and is weightless, oil free and absorbs almost instantly. It is even suitable for sensitive skin types.

Innovative Skincare Treatment Sunscreen 25
This superb sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection against the UVA and UVB radiations of the sun and also repairs sun damage. It further reduces skin redness and painful inflammation for all skin types including oily, acneic and Rosacea.

iS Clinical SPF 20 Powder Sunscreen
It is a one of its kind powder sunscreen that contains physical UV blockers comprising of 25% titanium dioxide and 20% zinc oxide. This special nanotechnology formulation provides sun protection against a vast spectrum of sunlight including the UVA and UVB rays.

Obagi C-Sunguard SPF 30

It is a special sunscreen formulation that contains ultra-sheer Z-Cote, an effective barrier that provides superior protection against the UVA and UVB rays of the sun responsible for premature aging of the skin and sun damage like sun burns.

Obagi Nu-Derm Healthy Skin Protection
This sunscreen comes as a part of the Obagi Nu-Derm Anti-Aging System. The sunscreen lotion contains 9% zinc oxide and 7.5% octyl methoxycinnamate that filters out UVA and UVB rays and protects the skin from premature aging.

Dr. Marilynn Syrett is a graduate from Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine Of The Pacific. She has authored several articles about skin care products like Anti-aging skin care products, Sun Tanning & Sunscreens and so on.

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